Taking Architectural Acoustics Into Consideration

How Does Sound Influence Architectural Design?

In architecture, where visual aesthetics often take centre stage, there exists another dimension that profoundly influences our experience of a space yet often goes unnoticed, sound.

Architectural acoustics is the science and art of designing spaces to control and enhance the way sound behaves within them. At Fewer Harrington & Partners, we believe that sound is not merely a background element but a vital component in shaping the atmosphere, functionality, and overall quality of a built environment.

Understanding Architectural Acoustics.

Architectural acoustics delves into how sound waves interact with the surfaces, materials, and geometries of a space. It encompasses various aspects, including noise control, sound insulation, reverberation, and speech intelligibility. Each element plays a crucial role in creating environments that are conducive to their intended purpose, whether it’s a concert hall, classroom, office, or residential space.

Every space has its own unique acoustic requirements. Whether it’s designing a performing arts centre that demands pristine acoustics for musical performances or crafting an open-plan office where there is a significant amount of noise which needs to be filtered and condensed to allow for people to be able to hear each other clearly whilst also be able to concentrate.

How does reverberation affect architectural acoustics?

In areas where you want clear speech such as offices or living spaces, the objective is to minimise reverberation time. However, in an amphitheatre or concert hall, a higher reverberation time will enhance the richness and depth of the music. It can be challenging to design a multipurpose space such that each section has the reverberation time and acoustic quality that it requires.


Architectural Acoustics

Materials and Finishes.

The selection of materials and finishes plays a critical role in shaping the acoustic properties of a space. From the absorption coefficients of wall panels to the reverberation time of flooring materials, every choice contributes to the overall sonic environment. It is important to carefully evaluate the acoustic characteristics of various materials and finishes, striking a balance between functionality, aesthetics, and budgetary considerations.

Spatial Planning and Geometry.

The spatial layout and geometry of a building can significantly impact its acoustic performance. By strategically positioning elements such as walls, ceilings, and diffusers, we can manipulate sound waves to create optimal listening conditions.

Whether it involves incorporating curved surfaces to diffuse sound or implementing sound barriers to mitigate noise transmission between spaces, our design decisions are informed by a deep understanding of architectural acoustics principles.



Getting the acoustics right at the design and planning stage will save your project time and money.  Architectural acoustics represents a marriage of science and art, where the manipulation of sound waves gives rise to spaces that engage, inspire, and enrich the human experience. Taking sound into consideration when designing any building, it is much easier to incorporate acoustics into the design than to try to add it later on.


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Fewer Harrington & Partners is an Irish Architects Practice with offices in WaterfordDublin and across the world. 

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